I originally brewed up an imperial stout back in late 2009 or early 2010, but the blog posts have been lost to Homebrew Talk Forum’s changes. The recipe I used is in my recipe section, and I also added an entire jar of molasses. My intention was to make the darkest, most bitter stout imaginable. I’ve lost the hop scheduling, but I know it included generous helpings of Chinook, Columbus, and especially Magnum. The stout turned out to be rather bitter, but did not hit the imperial mark. In addition, the Magnum hops gave off an odd taste that I did not particularly care for. I managed to stretch the bottles out for quite some time and just finished that last one this past October.
For my second attempt at this stout, I decided to go big again … in more ways than one. I did backed off the bittering hops this time (scheduling below), and I decreased the black patent to 0.33# but raised the chocolate malt to 0.67#. My ambition lies in making a 6 gallon batch so that I could split this into three separate secondaries: one for coffee, one for oak aging and one for mint/dry-hopping. Because of the larger-that-normal grain bill, I could not use the no-sparge method. I got a gravity reading of 1.086 for the first runnings. After a sparge, I filled the brew kettle up to about 8 gallons. The gravity was in the 1.070s, so I added 22 oz dark DME and 0.5 cup brown sugar to the boil. I boiled this for 90 minutes.
- 1 oz. Columbus (13%) first-wort-hopping
- 1 oz. East Kent Goldings (5.7%) 50 min
- 0.5 oz. Fuggles (4.5%) 30 min
- 0.5 oz. Fuggles (4.5%) 15 min
Now after all of this work, the day almost went to shit. I’ve been on this kick of reusing yeast. Ecology, saving money, and improved fermentation are all factors in this choice. However, this requires additional planning and extra-strenuous brew days as I have to bottle and cool at the same time. This time I was going to bottle the pecan porter I brewed a month ago and dump the stout on the yeast cake. While I cooled down the wort with my immersion chiller, I bottled the porter.
After I was done bottling, I looked at the wort and noticed that it was closer to the top of the brew kettle than it was before I started bottling. This isn’t good. The intake tube is wider than it is supposed to be, and I usually have to try different position to make sure there is no leaking. However, while I was head-down bottling porter, I did not notice that a gallon of tap water had entered the wort. I did not want to believe this, so I checked the gravity and sure enough it was down to the 1.050s. After much cursing, my wife suggested I try to boil off some liquid. So at 8 PM, I split the wort into three separate pots and started boiling. Part way through this second boil I decided to hedge my bets and add about 2# of dry malt extract to the worts.
I managed to boil off pretty close to what I accidentally added during the cool down, and by about midnight I had filled the fermenter with about 6.5 gallons. The OG read 1.088. But wait; this isn’t over. Monday evening I get home from work and my wife warns me, “Don’t get upset.” I look at the fermenter and see that the top had blown halfway off and liquid is oozing down the side and onto the floor. I set about prepping a 3 gallon carboy and transferred about 2 gallons into it. There is much action in both air locks. I am definitely not going to give up on the beer. 😉